Gates and Buffett philanthropic investment

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are the most philanthropic folks on the planet. To date the men have given away $28 billion and $17.5 billion respectively.

And Buffett’s and Gates’ partnership in generosity is by now well-known. In 2006, Buffett pledged to donate 10 million shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The gift, then valued around $31 billion, is given in annual increments of 5% of the remaining pledged shares. So far, more than $9.5 billion has been transferred—and largely given away.

One of Buffett’s few requirements is that each installment be spent within a year of receipt. So the 2011 payment of about $1.5 billion must be granted out in 2012. His other stipulations are that use of his gift must meet all legal requirements of charity and that Bill or Melinda must be alive and active in the foundation for the pledge to hold.

Buffett’s $1.25 billion contribution in 2009 accounted for slightly more than 50% of the just under $2.5 billion given by the foundation in 2010. So that year, by Forbes estimations, Buffett gave $751 million to global health and $157 million to education, while Gates gave $734 million and $154 million, correspondingly.

In total, Forbes estimates that Gates has given around $8.3 billion toward health and $4.6 billion toward education. Buffett’s health total is about $3.9 billon and his education number is around $1.1 billion.

 

The philanthropic force of connected giving

As governments around the world pull back, the philanthropic sector will be a critical force in meeting global needs. In what is called the “Giving Pledge”, 81 billionaires have committed to give more than half of their wealth to charitable organizations.  This level of philanthropy, over $37 billion by Warren Buffett alone, is historically unprecedented.

Warren Buffett most lasting contribution will not be his money; rather that he has successfully leveraged his social network and the media to inspire other billionaires to give extraordinary wealth for charitable good.  He is reshaping the way the rich think about money and giving.

And in the same way Warren Buffett has used media to get other billionaires to pledge their fortune to charity, people all over the world have used social media to raise money and inspire their network to join them in giving.

Indeed, according to Blackbaud, people are 200 times more likely to donate to a cause if their friends ask them to support a charity, in comparison to receiving an e-mail solicitation from the organization.  This is part of a distinct cultural shift – you no longer have to be a professional to be a fundraiser.

With the rise in connected giving will come the use of social data for fundraising.  Seventy percent of Millennials ages 20-35 report they prefer to give online, making online giving as the #1 preferred method of giving.

The IDC, a technology research firm, estimates that the total amount of data doubles every two years.  Social media data is a major part of this growth.  Marketers are interested in the “social network value” of a customer– how one person’s purchase influences others to buy a product.  Similarly, nonprofits are becoming aware how a donation can have a ripple effect in the donor’s network.

–Matt Bishop, founder and CEO of iGiveMore